You have heard of kettlebells, haven’t you? If not, you’re still living in a cave. Well, not too long ago, everyone just assumed that they were cannon balls with handles. Now, they’ve become an international sensation, a staple of celebrities like Sylvester Stallone, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Lopez, and Matthew Mcconaughey, by professional sports athletes such as Lance Armstrong and Reggie Saunders, pro teams like the Boston Celtics, San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans, and by military and security organizations like the US Marine Corps and the US Secret Service.
Like Clubbells, they were first embraced by professional fighters, since they offer an instant neurological strength carry-over into the realm of mixed martial arts competitions. That’s why fighters such as the indefatigable Randy Couture and of course the interminable Fedor Emelianenko adopt retro-tech tools such as kettlebells and Clubbells.
Because of their design, kettlebells deliver similar benefits for which Clubbells have become so highly regarded:
Highly portable. Because these tools can be used anywhere, they set you free from dependence on the gym. One of my students in Germany even opened the trunk of his Mercedes to show me how he had converted the spare tire compartment into a storage locker for his Clubbells and kettlebells - his "portable gym". Sports teams can easily take them on and off the field for integrated conditioning. Mixed martial arts gyms can use the equipment on the mats without fear of damaging the expensive covering. Military units can deploy them in the field.
Highly inefficient tools. Like Clubbells, kettlebells force you to become more efficient. This is contrary to gym machines, which dictate your range of motion. If you are not forced to control your own movement, you literally lose that capacity. Machines are useful in rehabilitation, when you must learn to reactivate a particular tissue. However, continued use of machines means you will lose the ability to "sling" force from one muscle to the next. Because all physical movement is a synergistic act of cumulative force development, only a chaotic tool, with unpredictable movement, enables you to gain control over your environment, and gives you the potential of movement mastery.
Displaced center of gravity of the kettlebell, and to a much greater degree the Clubbell, allows you to use significantly less actual weight to elicit the same training effect. That leverage disadvantage requires greater force production than if the weight were much heavier but balanced in the grip like a dumbbell. Since the actual weight is so much lighter, the soft tissues don't accumulate the stress and damage that they do with compressive equipment, such as dumbbells and barbells.
A weight you can swing in 3D. Though to a much lesser degree than Clubbells, some kettlebell movements allow you to swing rather than merely lift the weight. The tractional force involved in such movements creates space between joints, rejuvenating them with nutritive and lubricative flow. The world is three-dimensional, and you must train that way if you want to be simultaneously graceful and powerful. Swinging weight also allows you to exponentially increase force production. Because of torque, swinging a weight twice as fast creates 4X the force production. Compare this with lifting a dumbbell, where you must increase the weight geometrically to gain a static improvement in training effect.
Extreme range strength. Clubbells and kettlebells improve your movement through dynamic and extreme range flexibility, providing you with agility, reactive strength and deceleration training. The profile of the kettlebell, and to a greater degree the Clubbell, can be taken through a range of motion greater than any other equipment can.
A fit, functional physique. Due to the nature of the movements, torque, traction and displaced center of gravity, Clubbells and kettlebells cascade all of the attributes desired in fitness: power, strength, speed, endurance, cardio, stamina, and agility. As a result, these feral tools of inefficiency carve you into what many have called the chiseled features of an ancient Greek statue.
As an early adopter to any alternative method which could give me the edge, I was first exposed to kettlebells in Russia in 1996 with sport-specific applications for mixed martial art and submission fighting, as well as with combat-specific applications in special military and special purpose police unit physical preparedness. I was intrigued, just as I'd been when exposed to the Tajikistan sambo team's use of club swinging while coaching the world sambo championships in Kaunas, Lithuania. I continued my studies throughout Russia and Eastern Europe for the next 6 years, but I would meet the kettlebell again.
In 1998, one of my seminar attendees was a former USSR Spetsnaz Physical Training Instructor and military Master of Sport in kettlebell lifting named Pavel Tsatsouline. We had a great time together, and we shared techniques and tools over the course of several years. I brought Pavel to the internet for the first time as a subject matter expert for the strength and conditioning forum on an early version of my RMAX website. He co-presented on my forum with another luminary, the late Dr. Mel Siff. We had many great conversations together at RMAX, and I learned a great deal from Pavel's kettlebell lifting technique.
Many of Pavel's "Russian Kettlebell Challenge" instructors were also my clients, because they sought knowledge of how to use my joint mobility and body-flow materials to compensate for the personal and professional challenges that result from serious kettlebell lifting.
In 2007, world kettlebell lifting champion record holder Valery Fedorenko asked me to join the advisory board of the World Kettlebell Club. As an Honored and World Master of Sport in kettlebell lifting, there is really no one more qualified in the discipline than Coach Fedorenko. I began intensive study of the movements of Valery's technique, dissecting each and every biomechanical component and assessing their sequential summation of impact upon the body.
Later that year, as the US Coach, Valery asked me if I would give his people the edge in competition. He also wanted me to give his entire coaching staff the tools to properly prepare their clients for kettlebell lifting, and to compensate for the over-specializations which happen from training any technique repeatedly. Valery is a world champion and a national coach. He knows that when something is needed you go to the best expert in that field. I do the same with my staff of professionals from diverse backgrounds of subject matter expertise. And as you’ll discover, when it comes to mobility, no one knows it better than me.
Because of my genetic background of having suffered from a joint disease which doctors called osteochondrosis, and because of my learning disabilities with an array of dyslexia, I had to develop a surgically precise method of skill acquisition. Movement to me is more art than science, and I studied every field from neuroscience to psychophysiology, and biomechanics to biotensegrity. Only with a broad range of motor analysis did I acquire the ability to coach movement at a world-class level.
I began compiling my notes and experiences into a concrete structure, associating each joint mobility exercise with its complement component in the traditional kettlebell lifts, and providing an unloading release for each of those components through the compensatory movements I've assembled and created over the years.
I presented this information next to Coach Fedorenko as he introduced his Kettlebell Fitness Course with universal success. Due to the demand from so many kettlebell enthusiasts around the world, and only a limited amount of travel time to conduct workshops, I compiled these programs into a digital format.
The result was The Official Kettlebell Foundation, which I've successfully taught across Australasia, North America and Europe.
My coaching style developed as one for whom healthy fitness does not come easily or lasting. Although I train many professional athletes, fighters and celebrities whose livelihood depends upon their healthy fitness, people like myself find the greatest attraction to my attention to each and every Devil hidden in the details, my absolute ascription to incremental progression of baby steps, and my organic “God’s eye” view of exercise only as a means to the end of making you healthier and longer-lasting.
I offer you my best in coaching: my holistic view of wellness, of which strength conditioning remains only a contributor, my integrative approach to breathing in the precise biomechanical fashion which enhances performing without impinging upon your health, priming the joints and soft tissue for work so that you remain smooth, cushioned and moving pain-free, and unloading and releasing the tissues from tension so that you can recover almost immediately without any fear of injury or tear... and yes, I offer you the best coaching in the most efficient technique every created for kettlebell lifting by the world champions and record holders who cannot afford to deviate from perfect form.
Please enjoy and I hope to see you at my next workshop!
Serving as the USA National Sambo Team Coach and Champion (the official martial art style of Russia) and the 3rd style of international wrestling recognized by FILA,
Scott Sonnon was awarded the Honorable Master of Sport for his contributions to his sport. First exposed to kettlebell lifting in Russia in 1996 for sport-specific applications in Sambo, and combat-applications with the Russian Special Forces (Spetsnaz), Scott began rigorous study and application in professional sports and the real world of military and martial art fighting. Scott studied with the two most well-known coaches in kettlebell lifting: Valery Fedorenko and Pavel Tsatsouline.
Due to his array of childhood physical and learning disabilities, Scott developed a unique coaching style based upon teaching motor development in a universally successful manner that all people can benefit, not just the elite 2% who can learn just be copying a technique. The name “Coach Sonnon” as he is known to his students, has become synonymous with “Health-First Fitness” in that Scott’s approach has become a guaranteed method of improving one’s fitness in a pain and injury free manner, one that bolsters immuno-function (a fortress strong immune system), enhances proprioceptive awareness (our “bodymind”) and improves the over-all essential synergy of the myofascial matrix (the origami like net of connective tissue which gives us grace, poise and mobility.)
In 2007, he became the Combat Advisor for the World Kettlebell Club (WKC), and designed The Official Kettlebell Warm-up and Cool-down Programs for the WKC which he now teaches internationally with Kettlebell World Champion Record Holder, Valery Fedorenko. In 2008, Fedorenko appointed Scott as his first "Master Coach" due to his educational contributions to kettlebell lifting. Scott now travels the world teaching his famous Circular Strength Training® System, with his patented Clubbell® and with the Kettlebell Foundation techniques you will learn herein.
Coach Scott Sonnon is one of the most engaging Fitness Celebrities that I have ever worked with. His presentations captivate the audience not only because he is supremely knowledgeable in the areas in which he speaks, but because he can actually duplicate what he prescribes. It's paramount for me to associate with true experts, not just popular figureheads, when it comes to my organizational leaders and colleagues. His Army of CST Coaches have steadily been joining American Kettlebell Club to expand their effectiveness, and I've not only been impressed with their ability to move athletically, equally by their professionalism. It's a testament to their Head Coach!
- Valery Fedorenko, World and Honored Master of Sport in
Kettlebell Lifting, World Champion and Record Holder, Head Coach of
the American Kettlebell Club
Most of the sports conditioning information out there is nothing but the same rehashed stuff. I dare you to find Scott Sonnon's unique material in another source! Sonnon is without doubt one of the top conditioning coaches in the US, the thinking man's coach. He is the hologram man. Try and hit him and he disappears. - Pavel Tsatsouline,
former USSR Special Forces Spetsnaz Physical Training Instructor,
Military Master of Sport in Kettlebell Lifting,
Author of the Russian Kettlebell Challenge and Enter the Kettlebell.
This is the first program I've come across that spells out a sequence specifically for compensatory cool-down. It follows the same logic as Intu-Flow, start from the head down and the center out, but instead of priming each joint, you're releasing residual tension. The best part is once you learn the sequence it only takes 5 minutes at the end of your session. Releasing the residual tension I built up has been a huge issue for me so I'm glad to finally know how to deal with it.
The other great thing about it is that the joint mobility hits some areas that the Intu-Flow DVDs don't and will help me unlock some more tension and restore my mobility. At the same time the yoga poses provide some real basics that will improve my Prasara practice. Having done Iyengar Hatha yoga for years, I was able to jump right into CST's Prasara, but I always wondered if I would have been able to do it if I was approaching it for the first time. This isn't the case with this program. The poses are not only good for someone doing this for a while, but also would be a nice introductory point for a new practitioner.
I can be a real wind-bag at times and I haven't even mentioned the kettlebell techniques. Let's just say I thought I knew how to lift them before. My RKC coach even complemented me on my technique, but now I have a whole host of things to work on to improve my efficiency and effectivenes. - Conor Alexander
Scott Sonnon has a winner here! If I was a complete stranger to the CST system and protocol, if I never had heard or read about Scott Sonnon before or kettlebells, this DVD series would not only be a great place to start, but also a definitive guide to this unique, evolutionary Circular Strength Training system of health and physical fitness.
In a previous review (Prasara Instructional DVD), I stated that Coach Sonnon’s teaching/coaching method reminds me of bicycle chain, of how every single link of the chain is connected to the one preceding to the next one and for the chain to move the bike, all the links must work in unison. His instruction is that detailed but without dulling repetitiveness.
Placing myself in a beginner’s mind of frame (the mind works best when “the cup is emptied”), I learned and understood this Foundation Series. Afterwards of previewing, then perusing, then watching intently, I attempted and followed each DVD in sequence. I felt that all details, cautions, the ‘how’ and ‘why’ explanations gave me a great foundation to explore and learn this remarkable exercise tool, too (thus, the series is aptly named Kettlebell “Foundation”). So, this very well-done Kettlebell Foundation DVD series has brought me full-circle.
The title itself says it all: FOUNDATION. I, too, have watched or perused many kettlebell DVDs out there and none go into the why of each movement or position like this Foundation DVD. That is, it gives you the 'foundation' to build upon correctly (no house of cards here folks) and intelligently. He goes so far of giving you the nuances of the breath on performance enhancement (and just not one type of breath either, but five depending on which one you need to use at the given moment). Of course, included is a complete joint-mobility warm-up and also yoga for compensation. The yoga in itself is detailed enough to use as a stand-alone yoga session. No other kettlebell training DVD that I know interlinks the system holistically like this one.
- Kevin Lee Dougherty
I am so excited because I have recovered an ability that I haven't had in years. After having limped around for a year or so I finally had my third knee surgery. It went well and I figured I would get most of my mobility back, but even after PT I still had no spring in my right leg. I had really given up on recovering it, seeing as I am 59 years old, with a lot of mileage on my legs.
After doing Intu-Flow® for 6 months and loving it. I have made alot of progress in many areas of my mobility, and I have only progessed to the intermediate level. I ordered the Kettebell dvd and when doing the warmups I found that after doing the Fox walk and the curl and roll low an behold I could now bounce without feeling as thought my right leg had no spring at all. I still have to take it easy as I so excited that I don't want to over do it.
I just had tell Coach Sonnon thank you. I am starting to have fun working out again. Thanks Again! - Steve Schanuel
I have seen propably every single kettlebell related instructional DVD that is out there and the REAL difference with Sonnon is his way of explaining why, everybody else is telling what and how and that is just fine but when you reach a certain point it is absolutely vital to have this info. Vital :-) !
Last weekend I had a pleasure to review Girevoy Sport instructional material as presented by multiple world champion Vasily Ginko; I wathched Sonnons KB material again after the intensive two day seminar and again noticed that to me, the exceptional value in this DVD series is the way they always offer something new , every single time I watch (having done that quite often :-)them. His personal touch also adds something very special to all the other teachers material as well, and I consider this to be of exceptional value; does help to make todays "advanced" tomorrows "basic" .
I also have the set and watched them more than once. I found that I had many small flaws in my technique that had gone unnoticed. I'd recommend it to anyone. - Lisa Walls